Politics Maxine Waters just made a volatile situation much, much worse
Maxine Waters calls for protesters to 'get more confrontational' if no guilty verdict is reached in Derek Chauvin trial
Rep. Maxine Waters on Saturday night called for protesters to "stay on the street" and "get more confrontational" if former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is acquitted in the killing of George Floyd. © CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP/Getty Images Rep. Maxine Waters speaks to the media during an ongoing protest at the Brooklyn Center Police Department in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, on April 17, 2021. The comments by Waters, a California Democrat and icon among progressives, were immediately seized on by Republicans who claimed that Waters was inciting violence.
Minnesota -- and the rest of the country -- is on a knife's edge waiting for a, the police officer charged in the death of George Floyd.
It's a fraught moment -- coming after four years of a(and racists) for his political benefit and the mounting evidence of how race unduly influences policing. It's in these situations when the country's leaders need to, well, lead. Our elected officials -- from President Joe Biden on down -- need to urge calm and restraint while reminding people of our common humanity.
Pelosi: Waters shouldn't apologize
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calf.) on Monday said Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) has nothing to apologize for in response to criticism from Republicans over remarks she made in Minnesota over the weekend. "No, she doesn't," Pelosi said when asked by a reporter if Waters needs to apologize for saying activists for racial justice need to "get more confrontational" when advocating for police reforms. "That woman on the floor should be apologizing for what she said," Pelosi then said, referencing comments by Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Mich.), who spoke shortly after Pelosi gaveled the House into session for the day.
Which is the opposite of what California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters did over the weekend in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, at a Black Lives Matter rally to protest the killing of Daunte Wright. (Wright was killed.)
"I hope we get a verdict that says guilty, guilty, guilty,". "And if we don't, we cannot go away. We've got to stay on the street. We get more active, we've got to get more confrontational. We've got to make sure that they know that we mean business."
There's not much dot-connecting necessary here. Waters said that if Chauvin is not found guilty -- closing arguments in the case began Monday -- then "we've got to get more confrontational." And she said it in a city that has seen protests and arrests in its streets for the last week.
Nancy Pelosi Says Maxine Waters Should 'Absolutely Not' Apologize for 'Confrontational' Comment
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters on Monday that Representative Maxine Waters has no reason to apologize for comments she made in Minnesota that resulted in backlash from Republicans. © CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP/Getty Images Representative Maxine Waters(C) (D-CA) speaks to the media during an ongoing protest at the Brooklyn Center Police Department in Brooklyn Centre, Minnesota on April 17, 2021. - Police officer, Kim Potter, who shot dead Black 20-year-old Daunte Wright in a Minneapolis suburb after appearing to mistake her gun for her Taser was arrested April 14 on manslaughter charges.
That sort of rhetoric -- at a moment of such heightened tensions -- is irresponsible coming from anyone. It's especially irresponsible coming from an elected official like Waters.
Defending herself, Waters said, "I am nonviolent. Republicans will jump on any word, any line and try to make it fit their message and their cause for denouncing us and denying us."
Of course, this isn't the first time she's done something like this. At a rally in June 2018, which came shortly after then White House press secretary, :
"If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them and you tell them they're not welcome anymore, anywhere."
In both instances -- the one in 2018 and this latest one -- Republicans demanded that House Democrats punish Waters for what they took to be dangerous incitement.
Judge denies Chauvin defense's motion for a mistrial, but says Rep. Maxine Waters' comments 'could lead to this whole case being overturned'
Judge Peter Cahill said elected officials' commentary on the murder case was "abhorrent" and Waters' comments might lead to a successful appeal.On Monday, the fired Minneapolis police officer's defense cited those words to call for a mistrial.
"Maxine Waters is inciting violence in Minneapolis — just as she has incited it in the past,", a California Republican. "If Speaker Pelosi doesn't act against this dangerous rhetoric, I will bring action this week."
Yes, it is more than a little rich for Republicans to express outrage about incitement given that former President Donald Trump quite clearly incited the crowd at the January 6 "Stop the Steal" rally -- which led directly to the violent insurrection at the US Capitol. And because almost 150 House Republicans voted to oppose the Electoral College results after that riot. And many of whom -- Mo Brooks, Jim Jordan, etc. -- continue to insist, contra all available evidence, that Trump was cheated out of the election. And several of whom circulated a flier last week promoting the creation of the "America First" caucus that promised, among other things to foster "common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions." (The caucus has.)
Yes, it's beyond ridiculous for Republicans to display selective outrage about Waters when they spent the last four years not just ignoring but enabling Trump's conduct -- much of which was aimed at dividing the country along on racial, ethnic and gender lines.
But simply because that is undeniably true doesn't mean that Democrats -- especially Democratic elected officials like Waters -- should have carte blanche to say and do whatever they want. For all of the people making the "what about Republicans!!!" argument, remember this: You can only claim the moral high ground if you don't get down in the dirt yourself.
Republicans are wrong for aiding and abetting Trump. Period. Waters is wrong for encouraging confrontation and violence in a situation that requires the exact opposite of our leaders. Period.
That's not to say the two actions are equal. Lying about an election and then failing to take responsibility for a violent insurrection that left five people dead is far more grave than what Waters is doing. But it still doesn't make what she is doing right -- or responsible.
Republicans expected to file censure resolution against Maxine Waters Tuesday .
House Democrats laid into Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday and accused him of hypocrisy. The censure resolution is unlikely to pass in the House, even though Democrats have only a razor-thin majority. Democrats are expected to table the resolution once it hits the floor so the resolution itself is unlikely to get a vote, per several congressional aides.